Project 365/328 – Great Falls Tavern

The Chesapeake & Ohio National Historic Park weaves along the Potomac River for more than 184 miles. A vital waterway for Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia in the early 1800’s, the canal is a beautiful greenway for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of Washington D.C.

At Lock 20 on the Maryland side is the historic Great Falls Tavern. Originally built in 1828 as a simple lockhouse. In 1830 the lock tender. W.W. Fenlon, convinced the canal board of directors to expand the house into a tavern.

This tavern hosted many Washington D.C residents looking for a respite from the busy city. It survived the Civil War only to succumb to a flood in 1889 and then again in 1929.

The tavern was hurt, but continued to limp along in service and was derelict by 1940. In 1950, the park service renovated the inn and made it the official Visitors Center for Great Falls on the Maryland side.

To add to the beauty, in 2006 a replica of the mule-drawn canal boat, the Charles F. Mercer was added. A project created and supported by “The Friends of the Great Falls Tavern” allows visitors step back in time and float on the canal.

The Great Falls National Historic Park is a beautiful place to enjoy in a variety of ways. Make sure a stop by the tavern is included in your visit.

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